Saturday, August 29, 2009

LightWeight Backpacking

It is a nice Saturday afternoon here in the Phoenix area today...only about 110-112 degrees outside. This kind of weather really gets me amped for getting up to Montana this coming week and spending a few days in the Beartooth-Absoraka Wilderness. The forecast for Thur-Sun is High's of 70 and lows of 30...sheesh...can't wait!!!

Lightweight backpacking has been a goal of mine for several years. I think it began on a famous Zito brother week long camp out...packing 50-65 lbs for many miles in the Bitteroots or Beartooths...either way, I have been looking into it "obsessing" over it for a while now. Since today was a stay in the house or jump in the pool day...I got out the gear, weighed each peice and took some pictures. I have gone from 50-65 lb fully loaded pack for 3-6 days backpacking down to 22 is how I did it. New gear for me is the REI-Flash pack and Big Agnes Tent. With these 2 peices of gear alone I saved 8lbs from my 4 seasons Sierra Designs tent and 5,700ci Dana Designs Pack. I bought a new stove (msr - pocket rocket... 3 0z $39) and just really went through all of the things I had been bringing backpacking. There was quite a bit I could live comfortably with out...some things that I already had that could be lightened...and some items that would cost too much...but that I would buy anyway :)

Food and water will vary for any backpacking trip but I find that if there is frequent water, why carry 100 oz with you at all times...drink ton's at each water stop and then fill your camel back 1/2 way full for the next stretch. Food can be all over the place for weight...I plan for about 10-16 ounces for food a day...mostly freeze dried, Cliff Bars, oatmeal, pancakes, trail mix, jerky...etc etc... Planning for the weather is also a big one. I found that my old Ski jacket weighs almost 3 lbs without a heavy fleece liner...the 12 oz Gortex rain shell with layers underneath should be fine for just about all 3 seasons camping. I learned the hard way with rain jackets...Gortex is the only way...Marmot Precip "fabric" and the other lower end brands will do good for about an hour in rain...then saturates.

Fully packed with the base gear and additional gear (12.5 lbs) ...minus fuel, camel back and food. It is just barely 1/2 I guess the gear takes up about 1500 ci. Still plenty of room for everything I need...along with the video camera.

While perusing REI and trying to build up the nerve to pay 300 bones for a 3 lb tent...I was talking to one of the sales dudes. He said that he doesn't use a compression sack for his tent/rain fly...he just packs his mattress and compressed sleeping bag...then packs the tent/fly into all the loose areas. I found this to work great and takes better advantage of available space.

So yes, I am a gear nut and really enjoy getting outdoors. I tested this setup (without the new pack) on my Humphrey's peak over nighter and it worked great...(although, I did not bring enough warm clothes...) I have made a few adjustments and am just about ready to hit the trail once again in Montana :)

If you are buying gear...I recommend the following places. You can save a ton of cash on "slightly blemished" or discontinued colors...etc etc...fully functional gear

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Humphreys Peak

Date: August 14-15, 2009
Destination: Humphreys Peak - Flagstaff Arizona
Who: Julia, Jeff, Justin, Auxanna...(I am sure I spelled that wrong.)
Details: Arizona's highest peak at 12,637 feet. It is in a group of old volcanic peaks known as the San Francisco Peaks. Approximately 9 miles round trip with 3,300+ feet of elevation gain starting from the "Snow Bowl-Humphreys Peak Trailhead.

GPS mapped this route from the trail you can see, it is pretty much up all the way to the top.

Front Row Left to Right: Auxanna, Julia, Jeff
Back Row Left to Right: Justin and myself

Several friends of mine hiked this peak a few months ago as training for climbing Kilimanjaro. They said that it was a great hike and they would really like to do it again...but that they would like to backpack in several miles and then hike to the summit the next day. With that idea we planned a quick weekend backpacking cut out a little early from work, drive to Flag, backpack in and summit/come home on Saturday :)

"It would have been better"...if we could have cut out of work a little early...but it was not to be. Of course a critical work issue kept us all there until after 5:30...we then met at Julia's house to get organized and head out to Flag. We reached the trail head about 8:30pm for a little night hiking. Lucky for was another adventure. Being that it was Julia's first time backpacking/camping ever!!!...we had to make it a memorable experience :)

Julia gearing up for her first backpacking trip

Finally on the trail...not sure how I got stuck holding someone's pack.

Julia had the brightest headlamp of all of us...probably 1,000,000 candle power. After the 4th or 5th time of shining it in "Gentlemen Justin's" eyes while talking...he threatened..."if you shine that in my eye's one more time I will punch you in the face" :)

After about 2.5 hours of hiking and enjoying the dark, we made it to our campsite. Justin got the fire going while I fired up the stove and boiled up water for the mountain house meals.

First backpacking fire with her husband Jeff.

Getting ready for lights out...1:30am.

Justin got a good "mountain" morning pic of Julia and Jeff. Julia still has the towel on her hair from a great refreshing shower...(quite the tent.)

Auxanna met us at camp early in the morning to hike with us to the top.

Not sure what Justin's deal is...but that is 2 trips in a row with his famous "short bus wave."

Julia, Justin, and I taking a quick break at the saddle just above the tree line...things are beginning to get a bit windy...

The last push to the summit...what a great time. For the past hour we have been hiking in 30-40 mph they are gusting to 80 mph...people are being knocked over...girls are crying and covering their ears...Justin is laughing so hard his sunglasses fill up with tears.

12,637 feet...highest altitude I have hiked to. Nice for us other hikers had built these rock walls to shield us from the wind. Felt like a sand blaster up there with the dirt/gravel blowing around.

You can do some crazy things in 80mph wind

My hair really gets to be a hastle in this crazy wind...

Now that Julia has summitted Humphreys twice...Kilimanjaro no problem :)